USAF PATCH 499 AIR REFUELING WING Westover Air Force Base, Massachusetts, 1 January 1963 – 25 June 1966
The origins of the 499th Air Refueling Wing date to 1 April 1955, when Strategic Air Command (SAC) organized the 4050th Air Refueling Wing at Westover Air Force Base, Massachusetts and assigned it to Eighth Air Force and later the 57th Air Division. The 4050th became the host organization when Westover transferred to SAC from Military Air Transport Service. In addition to the 384th Air Refueling Squadron, flying Boeing KC-97 Stratotankers, the wing was assigned three maintenance squadrons and an air base group. Three weeks later the wing added a second KC-97 squadron, the 26th Air Refueling Squadron, which moved to Westover from Lockbourne Air Force Base, Ohio. A little over a year later, the wing became a tenant of the 99th Bombardment Wing and the personnel, equipment, and mission of its 4050th Air Base Group were transferred on 4 September 1956 to 57th Air Division's 814th Air Base Group (Later redesignated as the 814th Combat Support Group), and then finally transferred to the newly activated 99th Combat Support Group on 2 January 1968.
On 1 July 1957, the wing was assigned the newly activated 99th Air Refueling Squadron, located at Turner Air Force Base, Georgia. In August, the 99th moved to Westover and replaced the 26th Air Refueling Squadron, which moved to Plattsburgh Air Force Base, New York and was reassigned from the wing. Unlike the wing's other squadrons, the 99th was a Boeing KC-135 Stratotanker Squadron whose mission was to support the Boeing B-52 Stratofortresses of the co-located 99th Bombardment Wing.
In 1960, the wing added the mission of commanding SAC air refueling squadrons that were forward positioned in the middle Atlantic states at bases hosted by other Major Commands. In January the 305th Air Refueling Squadron was reassigned to the wing when it moved from MacDill Air Force Base, Florida to McGuire Air Force Base, New Jersey. and in June the 11th Air Refueling Squadron at Dover Air Force Base, Delaware was reassigned to the wing. In April the 19th Air Refueling Squadron at Otis Air Force Base, Massachusetts was assigned to the wing after the 4060th Air Refueling Wing at Dow Air Force Base, Maine was discontinued. With five air refueling squadrons assigned, the 4050th (and later the 499th) became the largest operational wing in SAC.
The following April, the wing added a squadron in the mid Atlantic, the 303d Air Refueling Squadron at Kindley Air Force Base, Bermuda. The 19th was transferred to the 4038th Strategic Wing the same day in preparation for conversion to KC-135s to support the 4038th's B-52s.
However, SAC Major Command Controlled (MAJCON) units could not carry a permanent history or lineage. and SAC looked for a way to make its these wings permanent. In 1962, in order to perpetuate the lineage of many currently inactive bombardment units with illustrious World War II records, SAC received authority from USAF to discontinue its MAJCON wings that were equipped with combat aircraft and to activate Air Force Controlled (AFCON) units, most of which were inactive at the time which could carry a lineage and history.
As a result, the 4050th was replaced by the newly constituted 499th Air Refueling Wing which assumed its mission, personnel, and equipment on 1 January 1963.[note 2] The 4050th's air refueling squadrons were reassigned to the 499th. Component support units were replaced by units with numerical designation of the newly established wing.
The 499th Air Refueling Wing continued to support SAC bombardment and Tactical Air Command aircraft with air refueling. The wing also deployed parts of its tanker force overseas to support unit movements and special operations. In addition to its tankers the 499th also flew the Boeing EC-135 Looking Glass missions in support of the Post Attack Command and Control System airborne command post for Eighth Air Force.
As SAC phased out its KC-97 aircraft, the wing began to shrink. The 303d Air Refueling Squadron inactivated in late spring 1963 and in July 1964 the three squadrons located at other bases were transferred to other SAC headquarters. In December 1965 the last KC-97 squadron assigned to the wing became non-operational, although it remained with the wing on paper. The 499th's KC-135 squadron was reassigned to the 99th Bombardment Wing the following month. The 499th Air Refueling Wing was inactivated on 25 June 1966.